The Other I

April 4, 2016

How to avoid hell fire

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 4:00 pm

Last night we watched a BBC adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  The Bronte sisters lived in Yorkshire in the mid-1800’s, and were the children of a minister.  But the three sisters seemed to have a drive for independence and survival that I recognize to this day in the Yorkshire culture.  The Bronte sisters sat around their table and wrote, works that were eventually published.

It was a hard life, fought against death, starvation, unemployment, and a religious fanaticism that is recognizable in the various forms of fundamentalism today, whose leaders believe that anyone who disagrees with them is disobeying the sacred word of God, and whose salvation depends on being given a taste of hell on earth.

Jane Eyre was subject to the humiliation and beatings deserved by anyone arrogant enough to stand up for herself.

In one scene which I doubt I will forget in my lifetime, Jane is being publicly castigated.  “Do you know what happens to people who go to hell?” she is asked.  “Yes, sir,” she replies, “they burn in fire forever.”  “And do you know what you have to do to avoid going to hell?” the minister demands.  “Yes, sir,” Jane answered.  “You have to live a healthy life so you don’t die too soon.”

I love it!  At Jane’s age, I was too good at knowing the Right Answers to have come up with an answer that so obviously violated the Truth with which Jane was being so ruthlessly beaten.  In fact, even though I openly disagreed with my superiors when I was a nun, it was still with the conviction that I had the Right Answers.  I had Vatican II on my side, after all, and John Kennedy, and Karl Rahner.

Now at least I know there are a lot of ways to be Right.

And, I fear, even more ways to be Wrong.




  1. Everything was so black & white…now I think and hope that we show compassion and love and don’t need to be so judgmental if someone disagrees with our beliefs. I think Pope Francis is trying to do that…
    But the ugliness coming from our American Politics makes me think we are going back to a very hateful way of life…and it saddens me.

    “There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe they are sinners, the sinners who believe they are righteous.”


    Comment by DJC — April 10, 2016 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

    • Yes, Donna, I too think Pope Francis is trying to teach the church not to be so judgmental. He said in his recent presentation that we have to be guided by compassion, not by rules. But it’s obvious he is fighting terrible battle with many of the Vatican entrenched & powerful. Well, if Pope Francis is willing to take on the bishops & cardinals, the least we can do is to try to live by the message of love and compassion that he is preaching. And Yes, we all need it, don’t we?

      Thank you for your comment. And the quote, which sums it up so perfectly. Terry


      Comment by theotheri — April 10, 2016 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

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